Serena Hulbert, who was fired as a “troublemaker” after questioning billing practices at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, has filed suit charging that she was wrongfully terminated for questioning bogus grant transactions, reports the Reno Gazette-Journal. Hulbert’s attorney Mark Thierman, said although the organization agreed to pay $300,000 to settle claims filed by the U.S. Justice Department, a federal investigation found $2.4 million in misused funds.
The newspaper says, without elaboration, that the settlement leaves open the possibility of criminal action. Thierman hopes federal prosecutors will follow-up with a criminal case. “My client shouldn’t be made to suffer because the justice department made a deal,” Thierman said. “I’d like to see the individuals who are responsible make up the difference.” Council President Susan Carbon, a New Hampshire judge, said the group “takes these allegations seriously and has reviewed its administrative and training policies to ensure that the [Justice Department] will not have such concerns again.” During a six-year period, the Justice Department complaint said, the council secured contracts through bids and proposals that included fraudulent lists of expected costs and salary payments. Justice cited the group’s hiring the husband of Mary Mentaberry, now its executive director, as a real estate agent to negotiate for the group. Mentaberry was not executive director when the business relationship began.